University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame - Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics

Topic 1:

Modelling Differentiation Circuits in Adipogenesis - Alexandra Jilkine 

Cell differentiation is the transition of a cell from one cell type to another (typically from a less specialized cell to a more specialized cell type), and it involves a switch from one pattern of gene expression to another. The differentiation process of adipocyte (fat cell) formation from precursor cells, is known as adipogenesis, and contributes to increase of fat tissue, where differentiated cells are almost completely filled with lipid droplets. The advisor constructed an ODE compartment model based on the known transcriptional regulatory circuits of adipogenesis. The students will work on fitting variants of this model to published experimental data.

This student project has several goals: (1) Test whether mathematically reasonable parameter values from the literature give a quantitatively correct time course of the transient stages of adipocyte differentiation, and how large a variation in parameters is needed to explain the heterogeneity observed in cells undergoing adipogenesis. (2) Mathematically test how different obesity drugs will influence the distribution of cells between these different subpopulations. The undergraduate student will learn numerical solving of ODE models, statistical model fitting, and model selection methods such as AIC and BIC.